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Gajuken Shunchô (画壽軒春朝)

A view of the actor Onoe Tamizô II taking the evening cool
Gajuken Shunchô
Artist Seal: Chô (朝)
Oki and Kichi
c. 1827-29
(H x W)
Oban nishiki-e
37.0 x 25.5 cm
Excellent color, unbacked; several repaired worm and binding holes along edges, not affecting image; small rubbed area near right geta
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Portrayals of actors in private life are a relative rarity, both in Edo and Osaka printmaking, though even more so in kamigata-e. Shunchô's composition provides an uncommon glimpse into the off-stage activities of one of Osaka's pop-culture icons. One of the appealing themes in ukiyo-e prints was the cooling off on hot summer days by actors, beauties, or courtesans.


Very little is known of this artist who signed as Shunchô (春朝). He was one of several printmakers using the artist name "Shunchô," each with different kanji for the "chô" (see, for example, HSO02, signed Shunchô 春頂 for the earlier name of Hokushô). The present artist was a pupil o Gatôken Shunshi and worked in the late 1820s-early 1830s. Like the other "Shuns" in this coterie of artists, he specialized in portraits of Onoe Tamizô.

This is a rare and unrecorded design. The plum motifs throughout design refer to Tamizô's mon (actor's crest: 紋). Unusual, too, is the view of the underside of the wooden geta (clog: 下駄) on his left foot.

The poem, signed by Otowa-ya Shochô (combining the actor's house name or yagô, 屋号, with his haimyô or poetry name, 俳名, respectively), can be transliterated as Suzu kaze ya mini aramaru hodo fuite koshi (The strong wind is enough to cool the body).